Words and video by Sarahana
Editorial Disclaimer: Tripwire contributor Sarahana filmed and edited this video, which is why we felt it most appropriate for her to set it up.
In 2008, These United States released two albums teeming with Americana references, though it’s the latter of the two, Crimes, that sounds like it comes from a world lost in the far west; a world in which men are almost always smelly and drunk, swaying between life and death, depending on what hour of the day it is.
The upbeat and catchy “Honor Amongst Thieves” is a prime chapter of this narrative and it’s appropriately placed right in the middle of that album. With Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) as our main hero, we are treated to images of a tavern, a tie dangling from a door knob, a mischievous Lucy, a Johnny with his jack knife, and a hoodlum’s roaring chorus about honor amongst thieves.
With that in mind, this completely green-screen-less video was inspired by a somewhat old school tradition of black and white movies, such as the equally hoodlum-ish Down by Law starring Tom Waits. It features a collage of live footage and candid shots, topped with two charming and odd acts of thievery by two of the band members. This is what front man Jesse Elliott told us about it:
“These United States are made for the Age of Energy — for better, for worse, for liquid, for solid, for all evaporations in between, they are movement. They are wasting what they conserve, conserving what they waste, Interstate 95 to the Fisherman’s Wharf, swindling, sweating, bobbing, weaving, loving, thieving.”
These United States – “Honor Amongst Thieves”